Trafford Becomes the First UK Council to Do Away with Library Fines

By February 11, 2018Libraries, News
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Bookworms who live in the Manchester borough of Trafford will be pleased to learn that the council has decided to abolish late fines for library books, the first council in the UK to do so. In a statement, the Trafford council stated that fines can be “off-putting for customers” and it hopes that this change will encourage more readers to visit their local library.

As The Guardian reports, the change will come to pass in April of this year and will apply to readers of all ages. It is hoped that this change in the rules will see “a further increase in usage of libraries across the borough.” The council added: “This change also aligns with the Vision 2031 ambition of ‘no one held back, no one left behind’ as there would be no barriers, either actual or perceived, of people accessing libraries and all they had to offer.”

2017 proved to be a strong year for libraries in the area and saw the first increase in library usage in 17 years. Council leader Sean Anstee said: “It’s another way to encourage usage. It will be a permanent change, but we have said to councillors that scrutiny is welcome, to look at the impact of the decision.”

Some have voiced concerns that the removal of fines will see an increase in the number of books going missing, but Anstee disagreed, saying: “We don’t have an issue with people retaining books at the moment and if we didn’t have a book returned, that person’s ability to borrow more books would be removed.”

Anstee referenced Bolton, which removed fines for readers under the age of 16. The council there only made £30,000 a year from fines and, once the fines were removed, library attendance increased.

Trafford currently has 12 libraries, four of which are being rebuilt. Whilst libraries appear to be thriving, others are not. For instance, down south, almost half of Somerset’s 34 libraries are at risk. “We are trying to position them as focal points at the heart of the community,” said Anstee. “It hasn’t been easy to keep them, but it is a choice.”

The removal of fines has been warmly received by library and information association CILIP. Chief executive Nick Poole said: “Libraries are unique public spaces providing free access to reading and learning. They are there for everyone, and anything that removes barriers to joining and using the library is very welcome. Trafford council’s announcement to abolish library fines for all ages is an exceptional development. As long as sums add up then we would like to see all libraries taking similar steps to encourage more members and more reading.”

Being a Librarian in the 1800s Was Thought to Be a Dangerous Job for Women

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For many bibliophiles, the idea of being a librarian sounds like a dream come true. No doubt there’s plenty of work to be done, but being surrounded by thousands of books must help take the edge off. However, in the Victorian era, the role of a librarian carried a certain stigma to it, especially for female librarians.

As JSTOR Daily reports, in the late nineteenth century, Librarian Rosalee McReynolds wrote about the potential perils of being a female librarian. As life became more urbanized in the second half of the century, men began moving to more commercial work. Meanwhile, the idea that women should remain at home doing nothing as servants did all the work became a popular status symbol. McReynolds wrote: “Ironically, while a man was judged positively for hard work, he gained further status in accordance with the leisure enjoyed by his womenfolk.” Read More

An Enormous Ancient Library Has Been Discovered in Germany

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In Cologne, Germany, the ruins of a large and ancient library have been unearthed which date back to 200AD. The building is thought to have housed over 20,000, not bad for a library built almost two thousand years ago.

As The Guardian reports, the ruins were first discovered in 2017 during an excavation project that took place on the grounds of a Protestant church in the city’s center. Cologne was founded by the Romans in 50AD under the name ‘Colonia’ and it remains one of Germany’s oldest cities. Archaeologists didn’t initially realise the ruins were once a library and were puzzled by the niches set in the walls for books. Read More

For the Eleventh Year, James Patterson Remains the UK’s Most Borrowed Book from Libraries

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Data gathered by the Public Lending Right (PLR) has found that James Patterson’s thriller books, along with thriller books in general, are the most borrowed books from UK libraries. For the eleventh year in a row, James Patterson has been crowned the most borrowed author from public libraries. In fact, his books have been borrowed over 22 million times since 2007.

As The Guardian reports, Patterson has stated he’s thrilled to be holding on to his crown, while also giving his support for libraries. “I firmly believe that better readers become better thinkers and I think libraries are an integral part of any community, as they are essential in helping to share and spread the joy of reading,” he said. His 2016 novel, Bullseye, was the ninth most borrowed book from UK libraries last year. Read More

Two Men Accused of Stealing $8 Million Dollars Worth of Rare Books, Including One by Issac Newton

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When we think about heists, we tend to think of thieves robbing banks for cash or priceless jewels, but the fact is there are plenty of rare books out there that are worth just as much as diamonds or gold. One such book is Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, also known simply as Principia. It is commonly regarded as one of the most important scientific books ever written and was where Newton recorded his work on the Laws of Motion. Last week, this important tome was the target of a heist from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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Banksy to Save Bristol Libraries!

By | Arty, Libraries | No Comments
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British artist Banksy is best known for his graffiti art in and around Bristol, and all over the world. His art is a social commentary, blurring the lines between art and vandalism by spraying his stencil-art on the sides of public, and occasionally private, buildings.

After huge success and recognition Banksy wants to help his home city and community in Bristol. The historical city is facing major cuts to some areas that could see 17 of its 27 libraries close as Bristol struggles to fix a £1.4m shortfall. Mayor Marvin Rees confirmed with local press that the street artist-come-philanthropist had “come forward and talked about supporting us”.

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Leicester Unleashes ‘The Hulk,’ A Green Mobile Library for the Homeless

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The city of Leicester, England has revealed ‘The Hulk,’ a large, green, mobile library which aims to help the city’s rough sleepers and ease the struggle of being homeless. The van was gutted and has since had shelves fitted which allow it to store over 500 books, from Roald Dahl to Harry Potter.

As Leicester Mercury reports, ‘The Hulk’ was officially unveiled in a ceremony on Wednesday and is officially called The Roaming Readers. The mobile van was funded by the Help the Homeless charity and offers rough sleepers something to keep their minds occupied, while also serves as a place where you can charge your mobile phone. Read More

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